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On a cold and cloudy December morning, Titus and Suzanne’s wedding day had finally arrived! Months of planning for their amazing Vizcaya wedding was about to take shape into a fun and fantastic wedding day. As our beautiful couple and their bridal party got ready, we vendors were working hard on making their wedding look just right.

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However, just as the outdoor ceremony site was perfect, and we were working on finishing the reception space, Mother Nature got the last laugh. It started to rain! Now, we knew that rain was in the forecast, but the weather people on TV all said it wasn’t going to arrive until the afternoon. The ceremony was scheduled to start at 10:30 am. PERFECT! My couple would get their outdoor ceremony after all, right??? WRONG!!! But it’s times like this that I am constantly reminded that this is why you hire professionals. It really does take a village, a professional and organized village! As myself, the DJ, the florist, the photographer, and the staff from Vizcaya all huddled around my cell phone looking at the doppler radar, we knew that the light rain was about to get MUCH worse.

So as I went to break the news to Suzanne (something I HATE to do by the way…..I never, ever like giving bad news to a bride), the rest of the team got to work, moving the entire ceremony set-up inside and on to the dance floor. By the time I got back in there, the DJ had already moved his set-up (which had been centered next to the dance floor) over to the edge. This is no easy fete, by the way, as that equipment is heavy and rather sophisticated. The staff from Vizcaya, along with the florist and her assistant, had picked up the rather heavy arch and brought that in. Someone else had grabbed some towels to wipe down the wet chairs that others were bringing in. Keep in mind that at this point, we had guests arriving and they were quickly taking shelter in the reception area from the rain. Fortunately, someone had moved in the beverage station that had been outside, so guests were able to visit over over a hot cocoa or cup of coffee while we finished our set-up.

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With everything finally set, it was show time! The love that was in the room that day was overflowing as two families joined together and became one.

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One of my favorite moments from the day was when both Titus and the bride’s brother got all teary-eyed as Suzanne walked down the aisle. Titus’ grandfather officiated a very beautiful and touching wedding ceremony. And the best part for me, was just how beautiful Suzanne said everything was. The disappointment of not having that outdoor ceremony faded instantly when she walked into the room and saw Titus standing there waiting for her. This is why I do this job!

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Special thanks to my AMAZING vendors!!

Venue: Vizcaya   vizcayasacramento.com

Photography: Quinn Photography   www.quinnphotography.net

Flowers and Decor Rentals: Botanica Floral and Event Design   botanicaevents.com

DJ and Lighting: Creative Memories Entertainment   www.creativememoriesdj.com

Linen: Mimi and Company   mimiandcompany.com

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Coming up next…..Part 2…..the reception!

 

 

 

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One of the things I stress the most with my clients is that there are NO re-dos of your wedding day!! If you choose a sub-par photographer, you WILL regret it!!

Did I make that point clear?? 🙂 I’ve heard so many horror stories from people (who were NOT my clients) about how terrible their wedding pictures turned out and their disappointment can hardly be contained. Too many people think owning a “really good camera” means they are now a “photographer”. That could hardly be further from the truth.

Over and over again, I hear this, “Oh, my friend is a great nature photographer and has a really good camera, so they are going to take our wedding photos.” Great! It will save you some money, but trees, flowers, mountains, etc……these aren’t weddings. Weddings are fluid and moving. Getting a group of 30 family members to all look at the camera, at the same time?? That takes experience and patience. And you only get one chance to capture that first kiss on camera. You better bet you want the person behind the lense to be experienced with weddings.

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Photo by Quinn Photography

I’m not going to lie……good photographers cost money…..period! And you get what you pay for. Experience matters when it comes to your special day. If someone is offering an “amazing” price that seems too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true. On average, in the Sacramento region, a good wedding photographer will cost between $3500 – $6500, depending on what services and products you need.

By now you are probably saying, “Well, why does this cost so much? They only spend a few hours taking pictures.” Ummmmmm……no! First, with digital photography, we now have the ability to tell a complete story of our wedding day, something I wish was available when I was married almost 23 years ago. You are going to want the photographer there to document the entire day, from the time you are getting your hair and make-up done, to the moment you step into that amazing vintage car and are whisked away from the reception. From ceremony start time to reception’s end, the average wedding is 5-6 hours long. Then add in about 2 hours for the getting ready photos and another 1 1/2 to 2 hours for pictures before the ceremony starts, and you are getting into quite a long day. And because digital cameras allow the photographer to shoot thousands of pictures of just your wedding day, it will take he or she days (uninterrupted) to review all those photos to delete the blinks or less than perfect lighting. Then, when you factor in the amount of time they spend editing those photos in Photoshop afterwards to crop them just so, or adjust the lighting just right, they are probably barely making minimum wage on your wedding. And don’t forget the time they spend meeting with you beforehand, shooting your engagement photos, or designing your wedding album.

View More: http://kristyweldonphotography.pass.us/patricejoewedding

Photo by Kristy Weldon Photography

So how do you go about finding the perfect photographer for your wedding? First, your coordinator can provide you with some good recommendations. We are fortunate enough to have some amazing photography talent here in the Sacramento area, and I’ve been privileged to work with many of them. I have an extensive list of photographers that I recommend to my clients based on their styles and needs. You can also ask friends and family members who they used for their wedding. Just make certain to see their finished album so you can see whether or not this photographer’s pictures style is right for you. Looking at a photographer’s website is also a good start, but remember, this is just a small representation of their best photos.

Once you have narrowed down your list, it’s time to start meeting with photographers. Most have various packages depending on your needs, but if you don’t see one that meets yours, ask if they can put together one that does. Most contain an engagement session. I highly recommend doing an engagement session as this allows the photographer to spend some quality time getting to know you and your personalities. This also gets you more comfortable with the photographer’s working style and makes wedding day pictures go much more smoothly. Ask to see many different albums from many different weddings. This will allow you to see a complete wedding, from start to finish. Also, make certain that the photographer has lots of good quality photos both inside and outdoors. Many houses of worship forbid flash photography during wedding ceremonies. Many photographers can get great lighting outside, but it takes a talented photographer, who knows how to use his/her camera and lenses, to take great indoor pictures.

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Photo by Everlasting Images

Ask if the photographer is bringing an assistant, or second shooter as we often refer to them. Having a second photographer makes sure that all angles are covered on wedding day. One photographer can capture the bride walking down the aisle, while the second can capture the groom’s priceless reaction.

Photos by Jacqueline Photography

Do invest in a package that includes an album. Many couples decide they can “save money” but just using the photographer’s “digital” package. This is usually all the edited photos on a CD or flash drive. Most of these couples think they will just take these digital pictures and have an album made later, but that rarely happens. This is one of the most important days of your life! Don’t leave the memories sitting on a CD or flash drive. Put them into something that you (and your future generations) will truly cherish for years to come.

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Photo by Andrea’s Images Photography

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Once you have established your budget, figured out an approximate wedding date, and hired your coordinator, the next step is to find a location for your wedding. There are many things to consider. First and foremost, is to figure out your wedding theme or style. Many of us dream of getting married outside with an amazing mountain view, while others picture an elegant mansion for their nuptials. Some think a quaint farm while others think an urban loft.

Whatever your theme, always remember NOT to compare apples to oranges. What do I mean by that? Well, the first question you will most likely ask is, “How much does your venue cost?” That question really needs to be followed with, “What services does this price include?” You may be able to rent a hall “really cheap” but it only includes the blank space and maybe some tables and chairs that you need to set up yourself. Still you’re thinking, for only $1000, that’s still a great deal compared to the $15,000 that full-service venue, with in-house catering, wants. However, now you need to rent linens, china, glassware, a bar, and those chairs are really ugly…….time to rent chair covers! It adds up super quick, and you haven’t even added in the cost of catering or alcohol.

Some people think the best solution is having the wedding at their home or property. Sounds great and you don’t have to pay a rental fee……should be MUCH cheaper, right??? WRONG!! Wedding expenses add up quickly. First, you are starting with a blank space…..no tables, no chairs, no linens, no china, no glassware, no dance floor, no bars….and if you think the 2 bathrooms in your house are going to be enough for your 150 guests, think again. Can your house’s plumbing really handle the needs of 150 people? Most cannot and therefore, you will need to rent restroom trailers (not porta potties…..this is a wedding not a camping trip). In addition, what are your local noise ordinances? Where will all these people park? What about electrical for the DJ and catering? Who is going to set all these tables, chairs, linens, etc. up? And finally, who is going to clean this mess up and will you be able to fit all this garbage in your rather small garbage can? My experience has been, the more a venue provides, the happier my clients have been and they often save the most money in the end.

Weather is definitely another factor to consider when choosing your venue. Here in the Sacramento area, we are blessed with pretty amazing weather and can almost guarantee there will be no rain during the summer months. However, Spring and Fall can still sneak in a rain shower or two so having a venue with a back-up plan is a MUST. I highly recommend a venue with both indoor and outdoor spaces, just in case, during these months. Another factor to consider is the heat. You need to provide adequate shade for your guests, either with umbrellas, a tent, or trees. However, if you are depending on trees for shade, it is EXTREMELY important to visit the reception space during the actual time of your reception. The sun shifts all day long and so does your shade. A space that is nicely shaded at 10:00 in the morning, may be in direct sunlight by 4:00 in the afternoon. If the sun isn’t setting until close to 9:00 pm, your guests will be miserable and burnt to a crisp by the time your wedding is over.

Finally, one questions I always ask, that most couples forget, “What is your policy on open flame?” Often, I come into my clients’ planning process after they have booked their venue. Their “vision” for the wedding includes a beautiful candle lit reception. However, they are shocked to learn, after I have visited the venue and asked more detailed questions, that no open flame is allowed. Their vision suddenly goes up in smoke! Sure, you can use those LED candles, but they tend to be more expensive and nothing can compare to the real thing. Each venue’s policy on candles is different and it is important to ask this question BEFORE you book or you could be very disappointed later.

That’s all for today’s blog post. Over the next few weeks, we will start talking about booking the vendors (DJ, florist, cake, etc.). Until then, happy planning!

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Happy New Year and welcome 2016! How many of you got engaged over the holiday season? It’s a very exciting time in your life, but now that the excitement has worn off, the real work begins…….planning your wedding day!

Most couples start with an exact date in mind, but I strongly advise against that. Instead, chose a “time of year” and be a bit flexible within that time frame for your wedding date. Many couples who become engaged over the holiday season, have visions of getting married “that Spring” or “this Fall”. Problem is, many of the venues and vendors that you want, are already booked. In the Sacramento area, May/June and September/October tend to be the most popular times to get married. It makes sense as the weather is usually pleasant (and most likely rain free) with temperatures that aren’t too hot compared to July and August. If you are flexible in the your dates, you have a better chance of still getting married “that Spring” or “this Fall” as are there are at least a few openings left. They just might not be your “first choice” of dates.

Next, sit down and talk budget. What is your budget for this wedding? My experience shows that most weddings are a combination of the bride’s parents, groom’s parents, and the couple all contributing to the wedding costs. The average wedding in the Sacramento region costs between $25,000 and $30,000. Now, pick yourself up off the floor from fainting and gather your thoughts. What does this include? How can I cut back on this?

Which brings me to my next step…….hiring a coordinator! Yes, I know….of course I am going to say hire a coordinator. I AM a coordinator! But I am honestly telling you that I usually save my clients money in the end, most often covering the cost of  what my fees were. Why??? Because this isn’t my first wedding “rodeo”. I’ve seen it all and know what a wedding needs, and what it does not. I know venues and vendors you don’t. It sounds like I’m being a bit pretentious, but I’m simply being honest. I’ve been building up my resources and knowledge on weddings in this area for years. I am going to be honest with you when it comes to why certain things will or will not fit your budget.

In my first planning meeting with clients, I ask them to tell me 2-3 things that are the MOST important to their wedding day. It could be great food, great entertainment, best photographer, lots of flowers, etc. Whatever your 2-3 most important priorities are, that’s where you should focus the majority of your budget. If you make those few things really shine, the other areas you spent less on will hardly be noticed by your guests. The other STRONG suggestion I make to my clients is be reasonable about your guest list. The more guests you have, the more it will cost. That’s just basic math. Think about it, how well do you REALLY know your 4th cousin that you met once when you were 3 years old? Do you REALLY think they will be offended if you don’t invite them? Chances are, they probably won’t. When making a guest list, stick to the people who matter in your life. If your parents are “insisting” that the 4th cousin be invited, then they need to be prepared to add more funds to the budget.

I’ll end today’s blog post here. In my next week’s post, I will talk about the next step…..venue search and selection. Until you know where the wedding will be, it’s virtually impossible to plan the rest of it.

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Pulling off a backyard wedding is not an easy task. But, with a fabulous couple and “rock star” vendors, it can be done, especially when you have an amazing backyard like Mindy and Jerad! It’s a beautiful yard full of tall trees right on the Sacramento River….the ideal setting for their mid-September wedding. The weather simply couldn’t have been more perfect. Not too hot but not too cold, an amazing Sacramento September day!

When having a backyard event, rentals become extremely important. Celebrations was able to provide so many things that we needed including the tables, chairs, linens, china, flatware, stemware, bars, galvanized tubs and even the dance floor. Their crew worked tirelessly to get that all set-up the day before. When you suddenly bring 100 plus people to your home, your plumbing system simply can’t deal with that. United Site Services to the rescue with their trailer style restrooms that were flush toilets (no port-a-potties for this wedding). Visual Impact Design made all of the beautiful floral pieces while Freeport Bakery made the delicious cake and cupcakes. Big time KUDOS to the groom, Jerad, who spent hours and hours setting up all the lighting in his backyard!

After a very touching ceremony, guests enjoyed delicious appetizers from Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que while Primo Bar made certain everyone had something to drink. Lucille’s also served up an incredible BBQ dinner buffet and Kevin from Extreme Productions kept the crowd dancing well into the night.

Thank you to the amazing Beth from True Love Photo for all of these great pictures!

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It was such an honor to plan and coordinate Emily and John’s October 2013 wedding. Emily and John, and their families, were so much fun to work with and the day couldn’t have turned out more perfect! All of those months of planning just came together seamlessly on wedding day. The ceremony was at St. John Evangelist Catholic Church in Carmichael with the reception at the hall on the same property. I think my most favorite part of the day was when Mariachi Los Gallos (who I quietly snuck into the back of the church just before the processional without the guests even noticing) right on cue, started playing the moment Emily and John kissed. Then they play the music for the recessional. After that, the festive mood continued as the mariachis lead the guests to the reception hall and performed up on stage during the cocktail hour and dinner.

The guests were treated to a delicious Mexican themed dinner prepared by Bocca Catering. They also had a blast at the photo booth by Encore Photo Booth. After Mariachi Los Gallos left, DJ Laith Kaos played to a packed dance floor well into the night.

Linen, dishes and lighting were all rented from the wonderful Classic Party Rental. All of the beautiful bouquets and floral pieces were made by Brandi at Party Petals. The photographer, Stacey Kennedy, recent shared these great photos with me.

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Congratulations Emily and John! Thank you for letting me part of your very special day. I wish you both a very Happily Ever After 🙂

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Wilson Vineyards was the beautiful setting for Chris and Rhea’s August 27th Western Chic Wedding.  It was the perfect venue for their theme.  Chris and Rhea love western design and they also love to hunt.  Hence those two “loves” were incorporated into the decor.  Right now, I just have my less than great pictures from my point and shoot camera.  However, hopefully soon I will have some really great pictures from Andrea Price of Andrea’s Images.  I can’t wait to see those.  For now, here’s a preview of the day including a few from some fun bridesmaids/groomsmen who were hamming it up for the camera :).

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